Democracy: The Constitution, The Courts and The People

Join the Jesup, Acadia Senior College and the League of Women Voters of Maine-Downeast for “Democracy: The Constitution, The Courts and The People” a series of talks about democracy today with distinguished scholars.

Tuesday, June 25 at 7 p.m. 
“How Good Are the Brakes on This Train?” with Burt Neuborne

Neuborne will talk about the health (or lack thereof) of the constitutional braking mechanisms – a well-functioning representative democracy; the two Bills of Rights protecting autonomy and equality; separation of powers; federalism; and judicial review, which was installed, first, by the original Founders who focused on protecting autonomy, and then the protection of equality added by the post-Civil War Founders designed to slow down runaway democratic trains. Neuborne is one of the nation’s foremost civil liberties lawyers, teachers, and scholars. He is the founding legal director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Neuborne has served as national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, special counsel to the National Organization for Women Legal Defense and Education Fund, and member of the New York City Human Rights Commission.

Tuesday, July 16 at 7 p.m. 
“Law and Legitimacy in the Supreme Court” with Richard H. Fallon, Jr

Fallon will discuss  what is “law” in the Supreme Court and what do people mean when they talk about “legitimacy” in the court.  He will also talk about the practical implications, so far, of having had Brett Kavanaugh replace Anthony Kennedy on the Court. He will also speak about some of the court’s biggest decisions of the year – involving gerrymandering and the census. Fallon joined the Harvard Law School faculty as an assistant professor in 1982, was promoted to full professor in 1987, and is currently the Story Professor of Law and an Affiliate Professor in the Harvard University Government Department.

Tuesday, August 6 at 7 p.m. 
“Saving America Once Again — Comparing the Tea Party and the Anti-Trump Resistance” with Theda Skocpol

Skocpol will speak about both the grassroots spread of more than a thousand local Tea Parties starting in 2009 and the current spread of at least as many local resistance groups are instances of an electorally sparked citizen movement aimed at fostering participation and redirecting public agendas and party politics. Both times, citizens horrified at the election of a president and Congress at the opposite end of the partisan spectrum mobilized to “save America” as they believe it should be. She will look at the characteristics and views of grassroots participants, as well as the structure and activities of local groups and the interplay of national and local efforts in these movements. Skocpol is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University.  Over the last two decades, her research has primarily focused on health care reform, public policy, and civic engagement amidst the shifting inequalities in American democracy.